Exercise has always been an important part of my life. I swam competitively before coming to UVa, spending my mornings and afternoons logging yards at the pool. Since then, I've become a distance runner, pursuing my passion in a number of full and half-marathons. This year, I started teaching a cycling class at the UVA Aquatic and Fitness Center.
UVa and Charlottesville have thoroughly satisfied my interest in exercise and healthy living. More than that, however, they have inspired me to become more active, "turning me on" to a variety of new activities. If you like exercise, then you're looking at the right school. If you don't, that's fine too. For your well-being, I encourage you to get "out there" and do something, but if you come to UVa, I doubt you'll need much prodding.
I will not do the town's athletic opportunities justice in this post; it'd be hard to. I'll do my best by categorizing some of the activities that I've enjoyed in my three years here.
- Ragged Mountain Running Shop is the first store that comes to mind when I think of running. They are located on the historic Corner and are known for their knowledge and friendliness. I've been impressed by the amount of time they take to analyze runners' gaits, a necessary activity in order to prescribe the right shoe.
- Charlottesville Running Company is located on the Downtown Mall and offers an incredible variety of running gear. They're a great alternative to Ragged Mountain.
- Each running store organizes a variety of different training groups for people pursuing specific goals (e.g., half-marathon, full marathon, etc.). I know firsthand that Ragged Mountain offers Wednesday morning speed training, in conjunction with the Charlottesville track club, for runners interested in picking up their pace.
- Charlottesville is notorious for its diversity of races. It's most popular races are in the spring: the Charlottesville 10 Miler and the Charlottesville 8K/Half/Full, sponsored by the two running stores. The fall boasts an awesome 10K and a number of 5Ks.
- Charlottesville is lucky to have some of the best running trails in the State. The Rivanna trails offer mile upon mile of scenic terrain. If trail-running isn't your thing, Charlottesville's rolling roads are runner friendly.
- Charlottesville is nestled in the Shenandoah Mountains and is surrounded by diverse hiking trails. Almost every student will hike to Humpback Rock during their time at the University, and many will have the opportunity to explore mountains like Old Rag, Cold Mountain, and Crabtree Falls.
- UVa has three primary athletic facilities. The Aquatic and Fitness Center is its premier facility and the equipment is state of the art. Gym membership is included in students' tuitions and going to the gym, at least in my experience, is a regular part of student life. The Aquatic and Fitness Center is known for its Olympic sized pool and the Olympic sized hot tub.
- Group Exercise classes are offered for a small fee and many students take advantage of them during their time at the University. Class range from Zumba, to Cycle, to Kickboxing...you name it, we have it. Every Friday evening the AFC offers a Happy Hour class which is free for students to attend.
- Although fantastic yoga classes are offered at the AFC, a number of private yoga studios exist in the Charlottesville community. As a first year, I frequented Bikram Yoga Charlottesville, detoxifying while practicing yoga in its 110 degree heated room. It's just a free trolley ride away. I recently attended an off grounds Ashtanga studio and I was really impressed. If you're looking to detox and destress, come practice yoga in Charlottesville.
- The cycling population is active in Charlottesville, especially on the weekends. The town is surrounded by hundreds of miles of quality roads for bikers to get their fill. UVa also has a club team for students who want to cycle in a more competitive setting. If recreational biking is more your thing, you are not alone. Tons of students bike to and from class (although it's definitely not necessary).
- Wintergreen Ski Resort is only minutes away from the University for all you skiers out there. I'll be honest, the runs are nothing like what you might find in Colorado, Utah, or Vermont, but for Virginia, it's not bad at all. It's pretty neat to go to a school where you can visit the beach in the morning and ski in the evening. If you want to ski in a competitive setting, the Virginia Ski and Snowboard Team will take you in. It's one of our largest clubs.
- I've talked about eating on previous posts, but just to reiterate, there are plenty of healthy food options for students. On grounds and off grounds, students' nutritional needs can be satisfied.
Like I said before, living in a town like Charlottesville has introduced me to a lifestyle I love. My life will be forever shaped by the athletic opportunities I've had as a student. Where I live, what I do professionally, what I eat, and how I spend my time will be a product of my experiences at the University.